Transgender orthodoxy may soon become a litmus test for parenthood, according to the logic of a new policy working its way through the Department of Health and Human Services under President Joe Biden.
A new rule in HHS’ Administration for Children and Families would apply the idea that any lack of “affirmation” constitutes a form of child abuse to foster care placements. Once that idea takes root in foster care, child protective services agencies might start applying it more broadly.
The rule would reinterpret the Social Security Act, which requires agencies to ensure that each child in foster care receives “safe and proper” care. The rule would lay out steps agencies must take to meet that requirement for “LGBTQI+ children,” defined as kids who “identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, as well as children who are non-binary, or have non-conforming gender identity or expression.”
Before agencies place a child with a foster parent, known as a “provider,” that person must “establish an environment free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse based on the child’s LGBTQI+ status;” receive training “to be prepared with the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide for the needs of the child related to the child’s self-identified sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression;” and must be able to “facilitate the child’s access to age-appropriate resources, services, and activities that support their health and well-being.”
As the Federalist Society’s Rachel Morrison pointed out, the rule does not define “hostility,” “mistreatment,” or “abuse.” However, it does clarify that “a provider who attempted to undermine, suppress, or change the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of a child, including through the use of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ would not be a safe and appropriate placement.”
The proposed rule cites medical associations such as the American Psychological Association to claim that efforts to “undermine, suppress, or change” sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression “are not supported by evidence and have been rejected as harmful.”
The rule does not acknowledge that gender ideology has infiltrated these medical associations and that many doctors—including those who once embraced gender ideology—have warned against confusing children on their gender and putting them on a path to mutilating their own bodies.
Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a psychiatrist and early proponent of transgender medical interventions, joined and briefly helped lead the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, which later became the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the central medical group that organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association rely upon.
A member from 1974 to 2001, Levine served as chairman of the eight-member International Standards of Care Committee that issued the fifth version of the standards. He ultimately resigned his membership in 2002 upon concluding that the organization “had become dominated by politics and ideology, rather than by scientific progress.”
In a document opposing the use of Medicaid funding for experimental transgender medical interventions for children, Levine explains that “there is no consensus or agreed ‘standard of care’ concerning therapeutic approaches to child or adolescent gender dysphoria.” He notes that gender identity “is not biologically based” and “empirically not fixed for many individuals.”
Levine also warns that social transition “is a powerful psychotherapeutic intervention that radically changes outcomes” and makes it far less likely that young children will “desist” from a transgender identity.
Contrary to the transgender activists’ claims, many doctors have raised serious concerns about the long-term effects of “gender-affirming care.” Cross-sex hormones can weaken children’s bones and make them more prone to heart disease. So-called puberty blockers, often billed as fully reversible, involve introducing a disease into a child’s body and make puberty harder to start again, should the child change his or her mind.
European countries, long considered more “progressive” than the U.S., have found a lack of evidence for medical interventions on children and are recommending a “watchful waiting” approach for minors.
Ultimately, gender ideology rests on the claim that a nebulous gender identity is more important than an individual’s biological sex. If a biological male claims to identify as female, society must consider him a woman and allow him to enter women’s restrooms, prisons, and sports teams, even though some men pose a threat to women in intimate situations and enjoy biological advantages in many sports. Similarly, this ideology encourages bodily alterations to make a male appear female and vice versa, despite the lack of evidence that such interventions actually improve well-being over the long haul.
This idea is particularly harmful for children who are just learning what it means to be male or female. If a boy likes to play with Barbie dolls, that does not mean he is really a girl. If a girl likes to play with G.I. Joes, that does not mean she is really a boy. Yet the ideology behind transgender identity urges parents to abandon all sanity and declare that such kids are transgender.
Before you object, think about how nebulous “gender identity” actually is. It doesn’t rely on a specific set of standards that may be verified objectively. Instead, it relies on an individual’s claim that he or she experiences painful and persistent dissonance between an “identity” and his or her biology. Any attempt to resolve this dissonance through mainstream talk therapy is ipso facto a form of “conversion therapy” to be condemned as “harmful.”
Yet Levine argues that “affirming” a transgender identity is a “powerful psychotherapeutic intervention” that will set kids on the path to mutilation and sterilization—long before they have any concept about what their own fertility means.
Under Biden’s proposed new rule, any potential foster parent who aims to protect a child from this confusion and damage may soon face expulsion from the program. That means the process will be designed to weed out guardians who actually would take good care of the kids and enable guardians who would assist in harming them.
In this topsy-turvy world, biology takes a back seat to a child’s insistence that he or she is really the opposite sex, even if the child might just as well identify as Queen Elsa of Arendelle or a Tyrannosaurus rex.
The rule justifies this by claiming that kids in the foster care system are more likely to identify as LGBTQI+, i.e. to face gender confusion. This means they are more vulnerable to the damage of gender ideology, not less. They need someone to protect them from “gender-affirming care,” and Biden seems dead set on preventing that.
Sadly, the HHS rule is not the first time Americans have faced this type of policy. In my home state of Virginia, state Del. Elizabeth Guzman, a Democrat, supports a bill to expand the definition of “child abuse” to include disagreement with gender ideology.
California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, signed a bill turning California into a “sanctuary state” for “gender-affirming care,” which the law defines as an absolute right. The law gives California courts the ability to award custody over a child if someone removes the child from his or her parents in another state in order to obtain such “care” for that child despite the parents’ disagreement.
Ultimately, Americans cannot have it both ways. Either it is child abuse to deny a child’s transgender identity, or it is child abuse to encourage experimental medical alterations that will leave that child stunted, scarred, and infertile.
Those on the Left seem hell-bent on forcing gender ideology in the name of safety, and Americans need to stand up and say, “No.”
Thankfully, HHS’ Administration for Children and Families must read every single written comment that concerned Americans send in on the rule. Americans may make their voices heard by submitting comments at this link.
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